Sharks to maintain focus on Storm clash
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has admitted prop Andrew Fifita's consorting warning has been a distraction ahead of the Sharks' top of the table showdown with the Storm on Saturday night.
Flanagan refused to go into specifics over Fifita's indiscretions but it comes just days after NRL CEO Todd Greenberg warned players and officials over who they associate with.
The Sharks released a statement on Friday emphasising that while Fifita had spoken with police, there had been no allegations of unlawful behaviour levelled against the 27-year-old.
Fifita, in the same statement, apologised to all parties involved in the matter and said that he and the Sharks are aligned to the police and the NRL's wish to protect the game from criminal influences.
Flanagan confirmed Fifita would play against the Storm and maintained his focus remains on the Sharks clinching the minor premiership in Melbourne.
"I'm terribly disappointed in the whole situation. But my job as coach is that I have to get this team ready to play a game," Flanagan said.
"I can't let it get away from the fact that we've got a big game on Saturday and we're playing the Storm down there for the minor premiership.
"I haven't slept for two days but it's not about me, it's about the team and about these other issues that are really important."
The Sharks ended a winless month last weekend with a 37-12 win over the Roosters and Flanagan said it was business as usual for his side.
"There's a bit of distraction obviously with the media but some of them are pretty hardened to that," Flanagan said.
"We're really looking forward to the game. I'm disappointed, the club's disappointed with what's happened. But we need to deal with it.
"The players are really looking forward to going down and playing the Storm, one of the best teams in the competition."
The Sharks last played Melbourne in Round 4 and emerged 14-6 victors, the win kick-starting the club's early-season 16-game unbeaten run.
Flanagan said the Sharks plan on targeting obvious stars Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk and joked Melbournians may not know what's happening considering the Storm's ticketing offer to AFL members, who are without anything to watch this weekend.
"I'm not quite sure if too many people in the crowd will know the rules because I think half of it is going to be AFL supporters because there's no games there this weekend," Flanagan laughed.
"We might start throwing the ball sideways, or forward passing, who knows, and we won't get too much of a reaction. But it's going to be a great environment down there, I think it'd be pretty close to packed and we're really looking forward to it."
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